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The Subtext: Chisa Hutchinson Is Not a Fan of Colorblind Casting

The playwright of ‘Somebody’s Daughter’ and ‘Surely Goodness and Mercy’ talks about how private school almost broke her and how August Wilson shaped her thinking.

The Subtext is a podcast where playwrights talk to playwrights about the things usually left unsaid. In a conversation that dives into life’s muck, we learn what irks, agitates, motivates, inspires, and ultimately what makes writers tick.

Chisa Hutchinson. (Photo by Joseph Moran)

This month host Brian James Polak talks to Chisa Hutchinson (Somebody’s Daughter). She is a member of the New Dramatists, a former Lark and Dramatist Guild Fellow. She was also a cast member of the Neo-Futurists in New York and worked previous as a staff writer for the Blue Man Group. Her play Surely Goodness and Mercy is now at Keen Company in New York City through April 13, and her one-person play Proof of Love is being presented by Audible and New York Theatre Workshop at Minetta Lane beginning May 7th. 

Chisa talks about being accepted in a private school as a teenager and what it meant for her to be “getting out of the hood.” She quickly learned the school wasn’t all that welcoming—indeed, unbeknownst to her there was a petition to have her expelled when some teachers accused her of being a drug abuser, which wasn’t true. Her “woke white mom” eventually swooped in to protect her from what was clearly a racist attempt to kick her out of school. 

Despite such challenges, it was at this school that her relationship with theatre began, thanks to a “badass” theatre teacher who let Chisa write her own monologues for acting class, because outside of A Raisin in the Sun there just wasn’t much available for her to perform.

This same teacher brought her to see August Wilson debate Robert Brustein at Town Hall in Manhattan. She found herself gravitating to Wilson’s point of view that colorblind casting is lazy and can erase the experiences of different races of people.

Chisa also fondly recalls how Diana Son, Lynn Nottage, and Tina Howe “kicked down the gates” on her behalf and got her into grad school at New York University.

Download the episode here.

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